Police in Utah have warned residents that it is not legal to shoot “random clowns” following an increased number of clown sightings across the country.
The Orem Police Department wrote in a post on Facebook that their officers had answered more than 40 questions on social media and a few dozen calls about clowns in one day.
Police said they were concerned about the content, not the number, of the messages.
"'Can I shoot or take action against someone that is dressed up like a clown?' That's not a simple yes or no question. It has a lot of variables to it," the post read.
"We understand that clowns to some people are already ‘creepy' and some people have a phobia of them, we see that," they added.
"However, if someone is standing on the sidewalk, dressed like a clown and they don't have any weapons and they are just standing there not chasing anyone around and you call us, when we respond and that person decides to look at us and walk the other way without saying a word, we can't do anything."
So-called clowns with colourful clothes and painted faces have been spotted from Connecticut to Texas.
In Utah, some people who identified themselves as clowns have posted a series of online threats.
The police advised residents to not believe every story they read.
Orem police added in their post that they will continue to take calls about clowns seriously, and will send out an officer.
They also warned that people who don clown suits to frighten children should "plan on facing some criminal charges".
States including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama have also reported sightings.
Police in Georgia also warned locals against dressing up to scare people, adding they could face criminal charges.
"This behaviour is not cute or funny," they wrote.
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